The 1991 Constitution of Colombia provides that the right of a person to be employed should be regarded as a social obligation and the state has a duty to intervene as far as it can to protect employment. The principle labour legislation is the 1961 Labour Code as amended by the Constitution and other subsequent laws. The Labour Code seeks to guarantee basic minimum principles for decent working conditions and while aiming for fairness in labour relations, can be said to favour the employee.
Compensation for terminations without cause are generous especially for employees with long service. Dismissal by mutual consent provides the best protection against long winded litigation. Collective dismissals for the purposes of reorganisation require the prior approval of the Ministry of Social Protection which can take more than 6 months. It is not permitted to dismiss a protected employee (such as someone who is pregnant or has more than 10 years’ service) without the prior authorisation of the Court or the Ministry of Social Protection.
Colombian employees are entitled to an annual bonus of one months’ salary. The bonus is payable by law in two instalments in June and December respectively.